Dog - Licensed Products and Certificates of Informed Consent

Licensed products

Veterinary medicines, just like their human counterparts, are subject to various regulations, for example some need prescriptions and others do not.

As the result of the new Veterinary Medicines Regulations which came into force in October 2007, the classification of veterinary medicines into the General Sales List (GSL), those that you could buy over the counter at pet shops, chemists, etc., without a prescription and POM medicines, those for which a veterinary prescription was needed, has been changed considerably.

Veterinary medicines that you can buy over the counter are now known as AVM GSL, Authorised Veterinary Medicines – General Sales List. These are still available without prescription.

There is now a further category NFA–VPS. (Non Food Animal Medicine – Veterinary pharmacist or suitably qualified person). These include medicines for dogs, cats and other pets. They must be supplied by a veterinary surgeon, pharmacist or other suitably qualified person (SQP). Most of these were included in the original PML list, i.e. those drugs that were sold by pharmacists or certain merchants and saddlers but could be purchased without a veterinary prescription. Some veterinary P medicines, i.e. those that used to be sold by chemists stocking veterinary medicines are also included in this NFA–VPS list.

What is a SQP?

A suitably qualified person (SQP) is a person registered with AMTRA – the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority – and is recognised as qualified to supply a limited range of veterinary medicines to the public. In addition to NFA – VPS these include POM – VPS, see below.

Prescription only medicines (POM)

These are now divided into POM–VPS, prescription only medicines that can be supplied only on a prescription from a veterinary surgeon, pharmacist or other SQP and POM–V, prescription only medicines available only on production of a prescription signed by a vet and which can be supplied only by a vet or a pharmacist.

The regulations controlling Controlled Drugs (CD) are largely unchanged by the Medicines Regulations since these are controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 which divide controlled drugs into various schedules for which there are additional requirements relating to their prescription, according to their schedule.

Certificates of informed consent

Theoretically vets should not administer any medicinal product to an animal unless the product has been granted a product licence for treatment of that particular condition in that species. This ensures the drug is safe to use for the condition for which it is prescribed for the patient.

Unfortunately this is an expensive process and if the drug is only likely to be used occasionally the cost of obtaining a licence becomes prohibitive. Flexibility as far as the veterinary surgeon is concerned exists under the so-called Cascade System. This allows veterinary surgeons, under certain controlled circumstances, to prescribe a drug for which there is not a product licence in respect of a particular species.

For example, if an analgesic (pain killer) is required for a pet rabbit it may be necessary to use a pain killer which is licensed for use in dogs, cats or humans.

Should this be so you will be asked, as the owner, to sign a Certificate of Informed Consent. This is consent to use an unlicensed product, but a drug which we have explained to you is acknowledged as being useful in the treatment of the condition in pets such as yours. Signing that consent form indicates that you are aware that should any reaction occur, neither the practice nor the manufacturer of the drug can be held responsible since you are aware that the product is unlicensed for this particular species.

If you do have any concerns, please do not hesitate to discuss them with us.

Used and/or modified with permission under license. ©Lifelearn, The Penguin House, Castle Riggs, Dunfermline FY11 8SG

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